Issue Briefs: Volume 6
Although cannabis-related businesses have thrived in the localities that have legalized marijuana as a consumer product, the industry has suffered from crippling uncertainty, in the form of limited access to the banking system. The cannabis industry thus has been forced to operate in a cash-intensive “gray market,” which is a problem. An entire industry conducting all of its business in cash cannot be fairly taxed or regulated and, historically, has been associated with lawlessness—everything from security concerns, transportation and currency problems, money laundering, and cash hoarding. This brief reviews and analyzes the issues that surround marijuana banking and offers several policy options for addressing the tension between federal enforcement and state sovereignty as it related to marijuana banking.
One of the key features of the Dodd-Frank Act is that it imposes specific and costly regulatory requirements on banks that cross the threshold of having more than $10 billion in total assets. Anecdotal accounts have suggested that this threshold has led to increased consolidation in the banking industry. This brief provides new statistical evidence of that phenomenon. Banks that approach the $10 billion threshold are significantly more likely to engage in an acquisition, pay more for that acquisition, and acquire bigger target banks than similar banking institutions did prior to Dodd-Frank. To the extent that policymakers are concerned with further consolidation in the banking industry, these findings should be of interest as they continue to evaluate current regulations and develop new ones, which might include the use of bright line asset thresholds.